According to the do-good state argument, one of the state’s purposes is to find good causes that people will not voluntarily support and then to force them to pay for these causes. This purpose is never stated as baldly as this, but it is an accurate characterization.
What is clear about the state, to everyone, is that the state is power. What is not clear among those who fancy the do-good state is that this power does not imply that it can be used systematically to do good or will be used systematically to do good. The opposite is more apt to be the case. As a rule, the state’s power can’t be and won’t be used to do good. As a rule, the masters who run the state won’t be able to identify the good of their subjects, that good being highly individual and varying from person to person. By removing decision rights from the citizens, they will impede economic calculation, prevent adaptation to changing prices and conditions, and undermine learning. Complex processes will be replaced by the simplistic decisions of the state’s operatives. Their prioritization of the many conflicting possibilities will not be resolved and cannot be resolved by reference to the good of the subjects. They will use political and personal calculations. Consequently, the state can not and will not do the good that the do-good state is conceived of as doing by its proponents. Instead, as a rule, it will be a do-bad state.
There is no such thing as an exceptional state, one whose rulers avoid the personal failings of all human beings, who consistently identify what is good and right, and who are capable of bringing it about. The state’s monopoly power has to result in their being selected and operating otherwise than as people who can or will do good. The state’s monopoly power conditions the outcome, which is the state’s being a do-bad state, not a do-good state.